What are the rules for putting your bins out? Londoner hit with £400 fine for leaving out on wrong day

A Londoner was fined £400 for putting her bins out on the wrong day. (Getty Images)
A Londoner was fined £400 for putting her bins out on the wrong day. (Getty Images)

New bin collection rules will be nationalised from 2026 as part of a plan to end the current “postcode lottery” for households.

Environment secretary Thérèse Coffey has announced new rules this week aimed at unifying how waste is collected - with some authorities recycling different products to others.

She said: "Simpler recycling will help us all recycle more easily, doing our bit to help save the planet and make the best use of precious resources that we use every day."

The changes have potential to end confusion within London where different boroughs have different rules on collections.

Ms Coffey wants to introduce her ‘three bin system’ to see all dry recyclable materials from one bin; a weekly food waste collection from another; and a third collection of garden bin collection which will be free for all for the first time. At present these collection methods vary from council to council.

The moves have been made as part of the government’s aim to stop all reusable and recyclable waste going to landfills by 2050.

The government is also hoping that such measures can help eliminate fly-tipping, which is reportedly a growing problem in London.

The news comes after Londoner revealed she was fined £400 by Waltham Forest council for putting her bins out on the wrong day, and was even threatened with prosecution.

Twitter user blixberrie said: “I received a £400 fine from [Waltham Forest Council] l because I put my bins out on the wrong day. I need people to really deep how much that is. If I didn’t pay it within 28 days they would have taken me to court and slapped me with a criminal record?”

She said: “There is absolutely no reason why ANYONE should be subjected to such a fine for something like that? It’s pure greed plain and simple.

“Some people don’t even spend that much on food for a f****** month and you want to threaten court proceedings? Shameful nasty beings [Waltham Forest council].”

Deputy Leader of Waltham Forest Council, Clyde Loakes said: “Keeping the streets of Waltham Forest clean is a priority.

“The hazard posed by environmentally irresponsible and clearly anti-social fly-tipping and littering – including attracting vermin – is a serious risk to public health and we will take action against those responsible.

“Neither Waltham Forest Council nor our contractors issue FPNs for simply leaving wheelie bins outside on the streets. While some residents in properties with no frontage or bin storage may present waste bags directly in the street, this can only be done on the designated collection days and times. These occur three times a week to ensure collection and minimise risks to public health, fly-tipping and negative impacts on residents’ neighbourhoods.

“This approach has been in place for several years and is not dissimilar to the approach taken by other London boroughs.”

What are the rules around ‘fly-tipping’ in London?

At present, there are different rules and restrictions on the collection of rubbish depending on the borough as not all authorities have the same system of black and green bins.

In Islington, for instance, bin bags are left on the pavement one day per week for refuse services to collect. But in other boroughs, such as Waltham Forest, doing this would be considered fly-tipping.

Waltham Forest Council’s website confirms that it can hit fly-tippers with a fixed penalty notice of £400 or can prosecute, adding: “If convicted, the person can be issued with unlimited fines and a custodial sentence of up to three years.”

However, the unauthorised dumping of rubbish in a public place would constitute fly tipping in any borough.

City Hall has said more than 1,000 incidents were reported each day in 2016/17 across London, an issue which costs millions to rectify every year.

The Local Government Ombudsman found it was “not proportionate or in the spirit of the government guidance to treat rubbish left out 35 minutes early as fly-tipping, which is a criminal offence”.

Furthermore, government guidance on the Environmental Protection Act says councils should issue a written warning for minor problems, such as leaving rubbish out early, before imposing fines.

Government guidance explains: “The Government wishes to encourage a measured and balanced approach, where householders are not penalised for minor breaches of waste bin rules.

“The use of these penalties should focus on those who cause genuine harm to the local environment.

“It is good practice to try and inform the household about any issues on the presentation of their waste bins. For example, you could use a letter or information notice. You should do this before moving to the process of issuing penalty notices outlined here.”

To report the crime of fly-tipping in your area, visit https://www.gov.uk/report-flytipping